Search Empire State Ride

How to pack for a 500+ mile bike ride across New York State

Packing for ESR? Check out these tips.

Tackling a seven-day, 500+ mile cycling adventure takes preparation, and one of the best steps you can take to prepare for Empire State Ride is to pack appropriately. When you register for this lifechanging ride, you learn all the details about the adventure you’re taking on. Here, you’ll also find a list of necessities to pack and suggestions for some of the must-haves you may not have considered. 

Once you’ve reviewed the packing list, check out the tips below from our veteran riders for inspiration.

🚲 Terry Bourgeois

ESR founder Terry Bourgeois suggests packing:

  1. Flashlight for navigating camp
  2. Vitamins, focusing on magnesium and potassium supplements for recovery
  3. BioFreeze or a topical pain-relieving product
  4. Earplugs to use in the tent
  5. Desitin for skin irritation
Terry speaks into a microphone in an ESR shirt during the weeklong adventure. Filler content.

Maria COccia-Bourgeois

Seven-year rider Maria Thor is always prepared with:

  1. Performance bars
  2. Packs of nuts
  3. Pedialyte for hydration
  4. Toilet paper with a plastic bag for use in between rest stops
  5. Tube, co2 cartridge and bike tool

🚲 Joyce Ohm

Five-year veteran rider Joyce Ohm can’t leave home without:

  1. Gallon Ziplock plastic bags – she packs her kits (jersey, bibs, sports bra, socks) in plastic bags for each day, with clothes for the evening, as well. Dirty clothes go back in the plastic bags. If it rains, suitcases can get wet, and the bags protect her clothing from rain.
  2. Lightweight, fitted sheet to cover the air mattress
  3. Battery-operated fan for the tent
  4. Recovery shakes and a reusable water bottle
  5. …. and most importantly: A sense of humor!
Dr. Joyce Ohm dons a white Roswell Park lab coat in an office setting. She weighs in on ESR impact.

As part of the $3,500 fundraising commitment, riders are provided with a tent, air mattress, camp chair and towel service each day. Each rider is allowed two medium-size bags, plus a sleeping bag and pillow that we transport each day. The weight of any single bag may not exceed 35 pounds. Pack strategically to have everything you need to enjoy the week! 

The best tires for riding 500+ miles across New York State

Coach charlie LIvermore on Mobility

Charlie Livermore sits in a chair wearing an Empire State Ride jersey and smiles.

The Empire State Ride is lucky to have the support of professional cycling coach Charlie Livermore as an advisor and friend. Charlie is not only a coach at Carmichael Training Systems, but also serves as a training consultant on our adventure across New York State. He offers his expertise and tips to all ESR riders and joins us on the road each July to ride 500+ miles.  

All blogs by Charlie

Are narrow bike tires really better?

This is a question that comes up a lot from ESR participants and it’s a good one. The answer is wider is better for all road surface conditions, but especially for the variable road surfaces you’ll encounter on the ESR route. Use the widest tire, with supple high-performance casings,  your bike frame will allow.

Wide tires make cycling more fun, safer, and just as fast as narrow tires on smooth surfaces and faster on less-maintained and bumpier roads. Additionally, lower tire pressures are much more comfortable acting as a mini shock absorber. The wider the tire, the less pressure required. In the test below, the 44 mm tires were inflated to 2.1 bar (30 psi); the 28 mm tires at 4.5 bar (65 psi).

Here’s a tire test on real roads, using a down-hill coast with constant speed, on a day with no wind. Same exact tire and casing on a 44mm vs a 28mm model.

The results:

28 mm: 27.636 km/h
44 mm: 27.564 km/h

Graphic that shows a tire test with rider climbing up the incline
tire size over run time graph

Debunking the Myth: Wide Tires Are Not Slower

It’s a common belief that wide tires are slower than narrow ones, but recent studies challenge this notion.

  • Real-World Testing:
    Lab tests on steel drums don’t accurately reflect real-world performance. To truly measure tire performance, tests must be conducted on real roads with a rider on the bike.
  • Results:
    Tests conducted on various tires, pressures, and road conditions consistently show minimal differences in speed between wide and narrow tires. Even at significantly lower pressures, wider tires roll at comparable speeds to their narrower counterparts.
  • Aerodynamics:
    Contrary to popular belief, wider tires don’t significantly compromise aerodynamics, especially at moderate speeds.
  • Track Tests:
    Power meter measurements on a track confirm that wider tires don’t require more power to pedal, and in some cases, they outperform narrower ones.
  • Smooth vs. Rough Roads:
    On rough roads, wider tires actually perform better due to their ability to absorb surface irregularities without compromising speed.
  • Real-World Performance:
    Racers have achieved remarkable success using wide tires in various competitions, showcasing their speed and durability.
  • Lab Tests vs. Real World:
    Lab tests on steel drums may suggest narrow tires are faster, but real-world conditions prove otherwise. Suspension losses caused by vibrations are not accounted for in drum tests.
  • Placebo Effect:
    Narrow tires may feel faster due to increased vibrations, but actual speed measurements show wide tires perform just as well.
  • Cornering Grip:
    Wider tires offer superior grip, especially on twisty descents, due to increased rubber on the road surface.

Conclusion:

Wide tires are not slower than narrow ones. Choosing tires with high-performance casings ensures both comfort and speed, debunking the myth that narrow tires are inherently faster.

I rode the last two ESR’s on 35mm tires and will increase to 38mm this year.

Look forward to seeing you all soon!

Coach Charlie

Full circle moments: Why first-time ESR rider Fred McKenna rides to end cancer

Fred's Why for Riding

There are moments in life when you look back and realize how all your life experiences connect — whether it’s destiny, divinity or mere coincidence. First-time Empire State Rider Fred McKenna reflects on this idea as he sits down at his computer in his home office in Oakdale, NY. Donning black-rimmed glasses and a blue-and-white polo, he shares his why for participating in Empire State Ride and fundraising for cancer research — something Fred says is akin to common sense.

“It’s just the right thing to do if you have the means and the opportunity, and you can do it,” Fred says. “If you can’t do what I do and ride and raise that much because physically or financially you can’t, then contribute in some way.”

For Fred, 74, a prostate cancer survivor, former science teacher and retired entrepreneur, riding in Empire State Ride means more than just the adventure. He remembers the days when he’d coach his daughter Aileen’s soccer team, doing his best to instill in her important life skills.

“My dad was my coach from a very young age all the way through until I was ready to go off to college,” says Aileen. “He was a great coach. He loved the game and loved seeing us succeed — but he also felt very strongly that playing soccer wasn’t just about playing soccer. It was about learning, about commitment and teamwork and the value of hard work.

In recent years, Fred and Aileen discovered that the son of a fellow soccer coach went on to become a leading researcher in the field of CAR T-Cell Therapy. Up until a few years ago, this fact may not have given them pause. Today, however, it connects to their lives in a significant way.

A Christmas picture of the McKenna family was just after Aileen got the CAR T treatment

“It's just the right thing to do if you have the means and the opportunity, and you can do it. If you can't do what I do and ride and raise that much because physically or financially you can't, then contribute in some way.”

Photo of Aileen getting her head shaved
Photo of Aileen getting her head shaved

Navigating His Daughter’s Cancer Diagnosis

In October 2021, Aileen, 38 at the time, started to cough and feel under the weather. The cough lingered for more than a month, and she became extremely out of breath and fatigued. At Thanksgiving, family members encouraged her to see a doctor. She soon visited a walk-in clinic where she received a chest X-ray. That scan revealed the first sign of serious trouble (and every parent’s worst nightmare): a mass in the center of Aileen’s chest.

Aileen’s physicians moved quickly, referring her first for a CT scan. Over the next month, she bounced between a local medical facility and her primary care physician, working with a thoracic surgeon, cardiologist and oncologist to determine her diagnosis.

On January 6, 2022, after a month of tests and uncertainty, the diagnosis finally came back: Aileen had lymphoma, later determined to be diffuse large b-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The cancer was aggressive but actionable, and Aileen, with the support of her dad and mom, immediately took the first step.

The next day, Aileen started her first of six chemotherapy treatments spanning four months. She received each dose within a five-day span, then three weeks of recovery in between treatments. At the end of chemotherapy, the tumor in her chest shrunk but didn’t go away.

Navigating CAR T-Cell Therapy

The next step in Aileen’s treatment involved CAR T-Cell Therapy, one of the first FDA-approved cellular therapies to incorporate adoptive cell transfer. This innovative treatment option was pioneered by Renier Brentjens, MD, PhD, Deputy Director at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and only recently moved up as a second-line treatment option by Aileen’s insurance. Months earlier, she may have needed more chemotherapy.

On November 14, Aileen went back to a New York City based hospital to begin her therapy — starting with having T-cells removed from her blood and sent to a laboratory. There, a gene was inserted to help them hunt down cancer cells and launch an attack. The stronger cells were multiplied and returned to Aileen through an infusion. This allowed Aileen’s own immune system to fight the cancer cells. There were side effects, of course, but Aileen said their duration was much shorter than what she experienced during chemotherapy.

Fifteen days later, Aileen was released from the hospital. On January 6, 2023, one year to the date of her diagnosis, she was officially declared no evidence of disease.

Reflecting on this moment, Aileen thinks back to her soccer days. “I learned a lot of lessons in soccer that I think really paid off when it came time to surviving cancer and going through treatment — a lot about persistence. I learned that you can do hard things and that you can be in a lot of pain and keep going. All those things were weirdly valuable lessons that came out of soccer that had nothing to do with winning games or being a champion athlete. Flash forward, all these experiences kind of connected.”

Aileen with shaved head during treatment

"I learned that you can do hard things and that you can be in a lot of pain and keep going. "

Life After Cancer

A cancer diagnosis often affects more than just the patient. “Cancer didn’t only happen to me,” Aileen says. “It happened to everyone around me. Everybody reacts to that kind of fear and frustration and helplessness very differently. Both of my parents provided an immense amount of care.”

For Fred, the fear and uncertainty of watching his daughter go through treatment led to action. Cycling, a long-time passion of his, seemed like a logical way to make a difference on the future of cancer care.

“There’s never going to be a time when my daughter doesn’t think about cancer. It’s just in no way possible. How could you go through what she went through and not be concerned every time you get a call or you’re sick or you’re coughing too much? In the back of your head, you’re thinking, what do I have?”

Fred's bike club

Why Fundraising for Empire State Ride Matters

As Fred prepares to ride his bike across New York State, his cancer connection and drive to move the research forward is deepened by the knowledge that funds from Empire State Ride benefit Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, a national leader in cell therapy research. While researching the event, Fred also learned that Roswell Park developed an innovative brain cancer vaccine, SurVaxM, that is making strides in treating glioblastoma patients. Fred’s nephew passed away from brain cancer a few years ago. He was only 22.

“I think that the stuff around glioblastomas is so groundbreaking and tremendous,” Fred says. “It is a death sentence, and here they are, beginning to have some impact on it.”

Advances in critical areas where little is known about less common, aggressive and complex cancers depend on research — and research is funded through donor dollars like those raised through Empire State Ride.

Looking Ahead to the 500+ Mile Adventure

Thinking back on his daughter’s cancer journey, the loss of his nephew and his own battles with prostate cancer that was treated and cured with bracytherapy, Fred has confidence that his fundraising efforts through Empire State Ride will bring more effective, less invasive ways to treat all types of cancers — and hope to patients everywhere, including Aileen.

“Cancer comes in many forms and shows up in many, many different ways. I don’t know if we’re ever going to totally cure it, but maybe we could develop treatments, even for chronic types of cancers, where we can keep people alive, allowing them to live normal lives,” Fred says.

Until that day, Fred plans to keep going and keep riding, enjoying every moment with Aileen along the way.

 

 

Picture of Fred with his wife and daughter Aileen.

"I don’t know if we’re ever going to totally cure it, but maybe we could develop treatments, even for chronic types of cancers, where we can keep people alive, allowing them to live normal lives."

To date, Fred has raised more than $16,000 for the cause.


Join Fred on the road today.

Excelsior riders fuel triple negative breast cancer research

Each year, Excelsior riders who raised $20,000 or more fund one unique project approved by the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) for its high potential. Here’s a look at the most recent SAC grant designation. 

Fueling Triple Negative Breast Cancer Research

Education Site - Dr. Azrak OICO Program 2.4.21-41
Dr. Mukherjee Lab Photos November 8, 2022-27 (4)

At Roswell Park, our researchers are constantly asking the next question and working toward new discoveries. Many times, those groundbreaking findings begin with a simple question or a small data set. Major national funding for cancer research doesn’t come into play until a scientist can prove they have a solid foundation and are already well on their way to something big.

Our solution is the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). Roswell Park researchers submit unique project proposals to understand something deeper about their dedicated cancer focus. Through a competitive and rigorous process, the projects with the highest potential and most established groundwork are selected for funding.

These SAC grants are made possible by the generosity of road warriors and their donors, without whom, many of these projects could not get off the ground and make their marks on cancer as we know it. For every $1 donated to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation and invested into research initiatives, researchers go on to earn an additional $23 in external grant funding, further fueling their lifesaving work. In other words, after donor funding has allowed their work to flourish, they’re empowered to seek and win larger grants to make an even bigger impact and follow the thread of innovation they’re chasing.

“But the true magnitude of that impact is much greater than the $23,” said Mukund Seshadri, DDS, PhD, Co-Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee, Associate Director of Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination and Chair of the Department of Oral Oncology. “It has allowed people to pursue ideas, it has allowed us to develop and move things forward. Maybe therapies that would have still been in the lab somewhere are actually now in clinical trials that we’re running at Roswell Park. An approach to mitigate toxicity in a cancer patient might not have been pursued at all if not for this funding.”

It has allowed people to pursue ideas, it has allowed us to develop and move things forward. Maybe therapies that would have still been in the lab somewhere are actually now in clinical trials that we're running at Roswell Park. An approach to mitigate toxicity in a cancer patient might not have been pursued at all if not for this funding.”

The following research initiative was specifically funded by the generosity of the 2022 Empire State Ride Excelsior riders who raised $20,000 or more and those who donated to their fundraising efforts.

Immuno-Metabolic Regulation in Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Subhamoy Dasgupta, PhD, and Scott Abrams, PhD

Breast cancer detection and treatment continues to improve, but in too many cases for patients with triple negative breast cancer, the cancer returns in an aggressive, metastatic form where therapeutic options are severely limited. The cancer cells in these situations have developed strategies to adapt and evade the immune system, enabling them to become more aggressive.

One way the cancer grows is by increasing a specific metabolic enzyme that can act as a driver of this variant. When there is more of this enzyme, there is poorer survival. In contrast, metastasis to the lungs and lymph nodes are significantly less when the enzyme is reduced.

Drs. Dasgupta and Abrams, along with their team, hope to uncover the intricacies of how this enzyme drives the growth of triple negative breast cancer by suppressing immunity so we can ultimately learn how to stop it with new therapeutic combinations.

A humble beginning: How Empire State Ride grew into what it is today

Empire State Ride has grown immensely over the last decade. Here’s a look at the event’s early years. 

The original Empire State RIde team in 2015
2015 →
Empire State RIde 2023
2023

If you’ve hit the road with us before or follow Empire State Ride (ESR) on social media, you’ve likely heard about ESR Founder Terry Bourgeois’s first solo ride across New York State. In 2014, Terry set out to test his vision of a cross-state cancer fundraiser that started in New York City and ended in Niagara Falls. But what about the first official Empire State Ride back in 2015 or the second ride in 2016? How did those rides differ from the ESR we know and love?

Empire State Ride has grown significantly over the last decade — in size, reputation and its impact in the fight to end cancer. The event has increased from 10 riders to almost 300 with fundraising efforts for cancer research increasing from $55,000 in 2015 to an astonishing $2.1 million in 2023. Now, we’re striving to hit a collective $10 million dollars raised for ESR’s 10th anniversary.

The First Official Empire State Ride

The 2015 Empire State Ride Route
The 2015 Empire State Ride Route

Back in 2015, the route was much different than it is today and so were the logistics that went into bringing the weeklong adventure to life. That first year saw riders set out from American Youth Hostels in Manhattan, where registration was held, to embark on the experience of a lifetime. Throughout the seven days, they stayed in different camps than the ones lined up for 2024, including:

  • American Youth Hostels in Manhattan (orientation)
  • City Park in Stony Point
  • Unification Seminary in Barrytown
  • Frosty Acres Campground in Schenectady
  • Utica City Park in Utica
  • River Forest Campground in Weedsport
  • Spencerport High School in Spencerport

There were no shower trucks, rider HUB, catering trucks or elaborate nightly program; the group was small enough to use campground facilities and restrooms. Those riders quickly became close, gathering nightly at bonfires to recount the day’s adventures and relive the trials and challenges of the days — including the hills.

“The first route was very different,” says Roswell Park’s Executive Director of Patient and Family Experience Kara Eaton, who was on the road that first year. “It was very difficult, but I built up mental and physical strength to get through and had the support of strangers who became family.”

Among others in attendance on that milestone year were IceCycle Founder Bill Loecher and John “Blue” Hannon, an Adventure Cycling Association leader who lent his expertise on bike tours to the event coordinators. The 11 Day Power Play Founder Amy Lesakowski join in the event’s second year.

Terry at American Youth Hostels, where the original orientation was held

We had close tabs on each other [in 2015]. There were times when the crew loved it, and then there were some hills when I heard riders yelling my name, saying: ‘I’m going to kill him! This hill sucks!’ I took that as a lesson learned, and we eventually took out some of the hills. At the end of the ride in 2015, the concept of ESR was solid. From there, we had to press on and make it real.

Hills and the Original Empire State Ride Route

Along the original route, riders tackled a mix of roadways and trails, similar to today’s path but with some pretty dramatic ascents. The hills proved to be challenging in the moment but eventually became stories shared for years to come.

Blue Hannon describes how one of those hills on day one has become a favorite memory. “My favorite memory of that year was the magnificence of riding through New York City and over the George Washington Bridge. You had to climb to get up to the bridge. But being on the bridge on your bike with the water down there … it was awesome.”

Of course, one of the steepest but most memorable hills came immediately before camp at Frosty Acres Campground in Schenectady on day three. In later years, that hill would become an epicenter for rider support with a crowd loudly and proudly cheering on riders as they ascended the last trying climb that stood between them and a good night’s rest — the same hill from which Team Dragon Slayers was born.

On the road each July, slaying dragons has become an extended metaphor for facing life’s challenges head on, whether you’re crushing a hill or raising money for cancer research. Phil Zodda, a six-time road warrior, recounts pushing against everything he had to get up that hill at Frosty Acres. When he reached the top, a rider named Carlos handed him a “dragon slayer” patch and congratulated him on joining the rank of dragon slayers. Though that hill is no longer part of Empire State Ride, Phil has made it his mission to hand out dragon slayer badges to those tackling hills on day three of ESR.  

“Together, we will slay this dragon called cancer and make the world a better place for future generations,” Zodda says.

Of course, for many, those hills simply made the finish line moment even more memorable. When the road warriors crossed the 2015 finish line (in front of the Niagara Falls Discovery Center instead of its current home on Old Falls Street), they proved how a small group of committed people can persevere, setting into motion a decade of unforgettable memories that have made a tangible impact in the fight to end cancer.

The Growth that Followed

The next year, the event grew to 63 people who raised $252,000, then to 84 people who raised $424,000. Each year brought with it a greater impact for cutting-edge cancer research and lifesaving clinical trials at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and beyond.

Looking back, it’s easy to understand how this group of dedicated road warriors has been able to raise more than $8 million for cancer research. Now we’ll ride onward to hit a collective $10 million for cancer research on a milestone year.

Will you join us for the 10th anniversary?

The original ESR jersey

Camping at ESR: What you need to know

Empire State Ride is just around the corner, and riders are in for the journey of a lifetime. Not only are road warriors advancing cancer research from the seat of their bikes, but they’re also taking on a unique cycling challenge. If you’re anything like Maria Coccia-Bourgeois, you’re going to learn a lot during your week on the road.

“I did my first Empire State Ride, hopped on the bus and off I went. I’d never camped. I was a Holiday Inn girl, but I learned to camp, and I’ve learned a lot of things about myself that I never thought that I would do or could do."

If you’re a first-time road warrior or thinking about becoming one next year, you may be wondering what to expect at camp. After a long day of riding, there’s no better feeling than freshening up and getting settled in for the night. By familiarizing yourself with the schedule and resources, you can make the most out of your camping experience.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what to expect.

🚲Your experience Includes:

  • No-hassle tent camping, including tent, chair, air mattress, clean towels and daily delivery of your luggage
  • Shower truck, restrooms, bike truck and mechanics support
  • The ESR HUB, a central location for rider information, beverages, snacks, first-aid supplies, sunscreen, and cue sheets.
  • Wellness support, including first-aid and physical therapists as well as optional massages at riders’ expense
  • Catered breakfast and dinner with consideration for dietary restrictions
  • Charging stations for devices
  • Nightly mission-based programs
  • Hammocks and lawn games
Picture showing an ESR tent and chair
Picture showing the inside of an ESR tent

🚲Schedule

The last rest stop closes at 3 p.m. each day. Dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. with the nightly program at 6:15 p.m. that unites everyone around our shared mission to end cancer. Then, you have free time until 10 p.m. when quiet hours begin. You can use that time to enjoy our evening reception, chat with other riders or just unwind while reflecting on the day.

🚲 Camp Locations

ESR Map of camps

Orientation Day: July 20, 2024 — Wagner College, Staten Island

CAMP: Wagner College
1 Campus Rd, Staten Island, NY 10301

Day 1: July 21 — Somers Intermediate School, Somers

240 US-202
Somers, NY 10589

Day 2: July 22, 2024 — Dutchess County Fairgrounds, Rhinebeck

6636 U.S. 9
Rhinebeck, NY 12572

Day 3: July 23, 2024 — Shaker Heritage Society, Albany

25 Meeting House Rd
Albany, NY 12211

 

Day 4: July 24, 2024 — Donovan Middle School, Utica

Oneida County

1701 Noyes St, Utica, NY 13502

Day 5: July 25, 2024 — Weedsport Speedway, Weedsport

1 Speedway Drive #415
Weedsport, NY 13166

Day 6: July 26, 2024 — Ferris Goodrich American Legion, Spencerport

691 Trimmer Road
Spencerport, NY 14559

Day 7: July 27, 2024 — Finish Line in Niagara Falls, NY

101 Old Falls Street
Niagara Falls, NY 14303

“Camp is part of the camaraderie that makes ESR so special. It’s a great way to meet other riders and hear why people are there.”

“At the end of the day, it's not about the ride. It's about the funds raised. And it's about hanging out at camp when you get there. Trust me, the beer tastes really good after a day of riding.”

Thinking about tackling this summer adventure in 2024? Register today or read more.

10 Years of SurVaxM

Empire State Ride Reflects on 10 Years of SurVaxM on the Event's 10th Anniversary

In 10 short years, donor support helped bring a homegrown cancer-fighting discovery to the national stage in the form of a clinical trial. SurVaxM, a therapeutic cancer vaccine developed at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, has the potential to drastically extend the lives of patients living with brain cancerYou and your donors are part of that.

SurVaxM was created in a lab at Roswell Park by Robert Fenstermaker, MD, Chair of Neurosurgery and Michael Ciesielski, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery. Dr. Fenstermaker is the Principal Investigator of the nationwide randomized trial and Dr. Ciesielski is CEO of MimiVax, the company which now produces SurVaxM. Their work has been passionately supported by donor funding for the past 10 years, proving instrumental in bringing this new treatment to where it is today.

Here’s how it all went down:

2012

Roswell Park announces a new clinical research study that could put cancer cells “in a Catch-22.”

2013

A phase I clinical trial begins in human patients, supported by the American Cancer Society.

2014

Roswell Park donors begin to financially support SurVaxM alongside the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation through events like Empire State Ride and more.

Drs. Ciesielski and Fenstermaker

2015

Drs. Fenstermaker and Ciesielski present their phase I clinical trial results to the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

Phase II of the clinical trial begins, bringing hope to 50 newly diagnosed patients at Roswell Park and Cleveland Clinic.

2016

Experts investigate usefulness of SurVaxM for patients with multiple myeloma.

2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awards orphan drug status for SurVaxM. This designation is intended to encourage innovation in the treatment of rare diseases.

2018

Findings through SurVaxM trials open
doors for other types of treatments like CAR T-cell therapy
and
antibody-based therapies.

Drs. Fenstermaker and
Ciesielski join their colleagues at Cleveland Clinic to present their phase II findings so far at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Results from phase II clinical trial show significant success: well-tolerated; 96.7% of patients did not experience disease progression within the first six months; 94.2% of study participants were alive one year after their diagnosis, as opposed to 65% of patients in a historical comparison group.

 

Drs hold up a vile containing SurVaXm

2019

Trial leaders bring fully completed results to the ASCO Annual Meeting.

2020

Two new studies, led by Renuka Iyer, MD, of Roswell Park, explore the potential use of SurVaxM for patients with neuroendocrine tumors.

Dr. Renuka Iyer, MD

2022

Roswell Park becomes the first center to treat newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients in the phase 2B randomized clinical trial.

Dr. Ciesielski returns to ASCO to present the final data from phase 2A as phase 2B kicks off.

Roswell Park is the first of several sites to offer a SurVaxM pilot study for pediatric patients in conjunction with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium.

Results demonstrating safety and extended survival are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

2023

The FDA grants Fast Track Designation for SurVaxM, opening doors to accelerated approval as late-stage clinical trials advance.

2024

You fundraise for Empire State Ride, armed with the confidence that your hard work is propelling something meaningful on a national scale.

You make a difference!

Check Out SurVaxM Coverage through the Years

Team spotlight: the Regulators

Meet the Regulators

port x logistics logo

"Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten."

Each Empire State Ride road warrior who tackles the adventure in July hopes to glean something different from riding their bike 500+ miles across New York State. For those on Team Regulators, it comes down to raising funds for cancer research and having fun while doing it.

“We’re just a band of misfits,” said Josh Lundquist, a founding member of the Regulators. “We’re all the non-super-serious cyclists who go to have a good time. We goof around; we pick on each other. It’s all in good fun to get your mind off some of the daunting hills and long days. Through that, we’ve made lifelong friends.”

The Regulators, led by 2024 team captain Amy Flynn, has become one of Empire State Ride’s largest teams, with 16 cyclists on last year’s roster. The growth can be attributed to a variety of factors, but one comes up time and time again: “picking up strays,” a term they use endearingly.

As a no-drop group, the Regulators often quote the Disney classic Lilo and Stitch as they pick up riders in need of motivation, making sure that nobody gets left behind or forgotten. Why? Because that’s what family does, and through the years, the Regulators have become just that: family. They do their best to make sure cyclists who take on the adventure solo or fall behind their group aren’t alone. As long as riders don’t mind the banter, they have a place with the Regulators.

“We come in last for two reasons. One: Because it’s not a race, and we want to have fun and enjoy every single mile that we’re out there. Two: We really don’t leave anyone behind,” said Shelley Unocic, a long-time member of the Regulators. “You ride as fast as the slowest person who’s going to stay in that group with you.”

Riding with Purpose

Two members of the Regulators fist bump during day seven of the 2023 Empire State Ride

The Regulators often joke that they aren’t the fastest team (often self-declared dead last), but they have grit and a fierce passion for riding to end cancer. In fact, their team was the third top team last year, raising more than $106K for cancer research at Roswell Park and beyond.

For Shelley, being a part of the Empire State Ride movement is a chance to make a lasting difference in the mission to end cancer.

One fact that motivates her, in particular, is that for every dollar donated to ESR, Roswell Park is able to leverage an additional $23 from external grants toward cancer research. That means donations have a huge impact on the future of cancer care, paving the way for innovative new treatment options.

Shelley has helped the Regulators become a fundraising powerhouse with her unique ideas, unbeatable drive and passion for the cause. Not only do these riders stay in contact year-round, but they fundraise together. The Regulators have found great success in unique fundraising methods like hosting a hockey tournament, working concessions at the Buffalo Bills games and encouraging riders to use their unique talents for the cause.

“We fundraise together as a team, and it makes life easier,” Josh says.

How Josh Got Started on the Regulators

Josh with his family and best friend, fellow ESR rider, Mike.

Like so many riders, the cancer cause is highly personal to each member of the Regulators. For Josh, ESR first became a thought when he saw an ad during a Buffalo Sabres game.

“I said to my friend Mike, ‘Listen, when I’m fully recovered, we’re going to do this.’ And he looked at me and goes, ‘Are you serious?’”

Josh was serious. At that time, he was battling a rare form of testicular cancer, a diagnosis he received after dealing with continued kidney pain. In the emergency room, he learned he had a tumor the size of a softball that wrapped around his aorta, vena cava and the ureter to his left kidney.

Josh explained that his particular type of cancer doubles in size every 11 days. To stop the progression, he went through six rounds of chemo over the course of about four months and had his kidney removed.

“I had my last treatment on Christmas Eve. The next Friday, I put my ice skates back on and played hockey. I just wasn’t going to let cancer take me away from me.”

Not long after, he and Mike, his friend of 20 years, signed up for ESR together. They’ve been an integral part of the ESR community ever since.

Shelley’s Inspiration for Riding

When Shelley Unocic first heard of ESR, she doubted whether or not she had what it took to ride 500+ miles across New York State. She questioned, “I was in my mid-40s. I am not an athlete. I’m just an average mom.” Soon she would learn, she is anything but average.

She mustered up the courage in 2020 to sign up. She was ready for the experience of a lifetime. Then, COVID-19 hit, and the ride she had envisioned was no longer an option. Still, that didn’t keep her from raising money and putting in the miles. She took part in the Hometown Challenge that year, and in 2021, she was finally able to get the full seven-day ESR experience.

“It was life changing. I thought I was one and done, and now I’m in year five and will probably ride ESR until I can’t ride my bike anymore,” said Shelley.

Like so many ESR road warriors, Shelley too has a connection to the cancer cause.

“My father-in-law passed away from esophageal cancer. By the time he had been diagnosed, it was stage 4. They gave him two months to two years to live. He lasted 12 months, and it was eleven months of hell.”

While her efforts through ESR couldn’t have saved her father-in-law, she knows that being a part of this movement is changing the future of cancer care … and that keeps her going.

ESR’s 10th Anniversary

An ESR jersey saying 500+ miles, 7 days, one mission

2024 marks 10 years of ESR. When asked if they’d be there for the milestone, neither Josh or Shelley hesitated.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. ESR has become a staple in our life,” said Josh. “We rode with Terry when we found out we hit $1 million for cancer research. That kind of stuck with me, and I want to be there for when we hit the next milestone and the next milestone.”

Shelley added, “The 10th anniversary just speaks volumes to Terry’s vision and how far it’s come. The fact that so many of us have been able to be on that journey for so many years and get it to where it is, is a special feeling. I tell people this event is a life-changing event. It certainly changed my life.”

JOIN THE REGULATORS FOR THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF EMPIRE STATE RIDE

What to know about Instagram fundraising

Fundraising $3,500 is a challenge, but when armed with the right tools and attitude, it’s easier than you think. Social media can be a great way to spread the word about your efforts, and integrating your online fundraising dashboard with your personal Facebook page can be extremely effective. Read more about that here.  

When it comes to using Instagram, however, fundraising gets more complicated. Here’s what you need to know. 

Donations from Instagram don't display on your dashboard

Facebook recently made it much easier to share your Facebook fundraiser on Instagram, but funds from Instagram do not display in the Empire State Ride dashboard.

Roswell Park Alliance Foundation Instagram dashboard showing donations
Roswell Park Alliance Foundation Instagram dashboard showing set up
Roswell Park Alliance Foundation Instagram dashboard

Already set up your Instagram fundraiser?

If you’ve already set up an Instagram fundraiser, we can help you get credit for the amount raised. Please reach out to us at empirestateride@roswellpark.org with the following information from your Instagram fundraiser:

  • Your full name
  • The names of all of your donors
  • The Instagram usernames of all your donors
  • The individual amounts raised by each donor
  • The date of each donation

From there, we will manually post the donations to your account. This can take up to four weeks, as we are unable to post a donation until we receive the payment from Instagram. Please keep this in mind when planning for rewards and matches. 

Instagram sends donations monthly with no information regarding the donor or recipient. That’s why your help is so important.

Roswell Park Alliance Foundation Instagram dashboard showing donations

How can I fundraise on Instagram?

When you switch your fundraiser from Facebook to Instagram, the integration to your Empire State Ride fundraising page gets lost.

The funds are sent to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation (the non-profit organization that runs the Empire State Ride), but they don’t reflect on your Empire State Ride page.

For that reason, it’s best to avoid using Instagram fundraisers.

Here’s what you can do instead:

  1. Stick with fundraising on Facebook or directly through your ESR page.
  2. Copy the link from your ESR fundraising page (see below) and paste it to stories or your bio on Instagram (create a story, click the “stickers” button at the top, and select “link” to paste your URL).
Roswell Park Alliance Foundation Instagram dashboard showing Roswell Park Alliance Foundation
Roswell Park Alliance Foundation Instagram dashboard showing story

Charlie Livermore’s 2024 ESR training plan

Charlie Livermore talks during orientation for the 2022 Empire State Ride
The Empire State Ride is lucky to have the support of professional-level cycling coach Charlie Livermore as an advisor and friend. Charlie is not only a coach at Carmichael Training Systems, but also a training consultant on our adventure across New York State. He offers his expertise and tips to all ESR riders and joins us on the road each July to ride 500+ miles.

The Training Plans

Hi, everyone. Coach Charlie here.

I’m happy to announce that the 2024 ESR Training Plans are now available.

As a coach, I’ve been challenged to provide the right advice for a wide a range of riders. The training load necessary for an advanced rider is too much for a beginner and the correct dose for a beginner will not help an advanced rider. To make it easy, I divided the ESR rider community into categories and created three versions of the training plan.

Advanced Training Plan

The advanced rider plan is designed for cyclists who ride all year around, and cycling is their primary sport. These cyclists can easily tackle the distance of the ESR. Their goal might be to ride the 540 miles at the highest average speed they can achieve every day or use the training stimulus of a big volume week to prepare for another event goal. The average speed of this group is generally 18-20 MPH.

Intermediate Training Plan

The intermediate rider plan is also designed for cyclists who ride all year around. These riders won’t have a problem tackling the distance, but it will be a significant challenge. The average speed of this group is generally 14-16 MPH.

Beginner Training Plan

This group consists of riders who are either brand new to cycling or start training in the spring and summer months just to prepare for the ESR. Average speed of this group is generally 10-12 MPH.

The biggest difference in these plans is the start date and the length. For beginners, I stayed with the original 22-week plan since most of those in this category don’t have an indoor training option and can’t ride outside until spring due to weather conditions. The intermediate and advanced plans assume you have an indoor training setup or can ride outdoors.

Before you begin, familiarize yourself with the terms below. Understanding your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and breathing rate are especially important to ensure you’re working at the correct intensity. Read more about how about how to follow the ESR training plan below.

Whether this will be your first ESR or you are an experienced multi-day event rider, you’ll benefit from following one of the structured training plans.

Preparing your body for the challenge of riding 500+ miles isn’t just about riding more. You’ll achieve a better level of preparedness with quality training over quantity. Anyone can do the Empire State Ride; even a time-crunched athlete can feel confident at the start line if they train right.

Start every workout with a warm-up.

Warm-ups can vary, but you want to do at least 15 minutes of conversational pace riding before you start any high-intensity-interval workout. Focus on the execution of the intervals rather than time. After you warm up and complete the intervals, complete the remaining prescribed time of the at an easy endurance pace. Workouts will be listed with a total duration that is longer than the total time of the actual intervals to account for this. 

I prescribed all workout intensities based on Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), a measure of workload to determine how hard you feel you are exercising. In a training setting, the RPE scale is from 1-10 (1 being no exertion and 10 being a maximum effort). Each workout in the training plan has an RPE associated with it to help guide you to the prescribed intensity. Below, Table 7.1 Workouts, RPE and Breathing Rate lays out what you’re trying to accomplish with each workout to understand the scale.

Chart of terms

Recovery Miles (RM)

Recovery miles need to be very easy to allow you to recover from previous workouts. They’ll range anywhere from 40 – 60 minutes and should be substantially easier than endurance miles. It should be 2-3 on an RPE scale and have a frequency of 2-3 times per week.

Endurance Miles (EM)

Much of your riding time will consist of endurance miles. Many people refer to this as their forever pace, but it’s also the time around your interval sets. These rides should be a 4-5 on the RPE scale and range from 90 minutes to 6+ hours. Your speed will vary with hills but remember to keep your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) the same. Going uphill at the same speed requires more work, which can turn your endurance miles into steady state quickly.

Tempo (T)

Tempo workouts are faster than endurance miles but not all out (at your “lactate threshold”). These workouts help develop a stronger aerobic engine by maintaining an effort outside of your comfort zone. They should be a 6 on an RPE scale and range from 15 – 45 minutes for each interval. Be very careful that you don’t let your intensity level get into your lactate threshold. It’s easy to let it creep up, but faster doesn’t always mean better. You need to be able to sustain that pace for longer periods of time to get the best adaptation.

Steady State (SS)

Steady state workouts are probably the most well-known of these workouts. They’re an important part of training and very strenuous. They should be done at or slightly below your lactate threshold at an RPE of 7-8. These intervals are shorter than tempo because of the intensity involved. Each interval ranges from 8 to 20 minutes and has a 2-to-1 recovery ratio. A typical workout may look like 3×10 min with 5 minutes of active recovery between each interval.

Power Intervals (PI)

Power Intervals are short, extremely strenuous intervals that help develop your VO2max. They last 1 to 5 minutes at an RPE of 10. Warming up before these is even more important, so make sure to get in 15-30 minutes of conversational riding before you start the intervals. The recovery period is 1 to 1, so 1-minute intervals have 1 minute of active recovery.

Fast Pedaling (FP)

This workout should be performed on a relatively flat section of road or on an indoor trainer. The gearing should be light, with low pedal resistance. Begin slowly and increase your pedal speed, starting out with around 15 or 16 pedal revolutions per 10-second count. This equates to a cadence of 90 to 96 RPM. While staying in the saddle, increase your pedal speed, keeping your hips smooth with no rocking.

Concentrate on pulling through the bottom of the pedal stroke and over the top. After one minute of fast pedaling, you should be maintaining 18 to 20 pedal revolutions per 10-second count, or a cadence of 108 to 120 RPM for the entire amount of time prescribed for the workout. Your heart rate will climb while doing this workout, but don’t use it to judge your training intensity. It is important that you try to ride the entire length of the fast pedaling workout with as few interruptions as possible.

 Rest Between Intervals (RBI)

This is the rest time between each interval. Note that this is active rest. The RPE is low at 1-2 but don’t stop pedaling during the RBI period.

Rest Between Sets (RBS)

This is the rest time between sets of intervals. Note that this is active rest. The RPE is low at 1-2 but don’t stop pedaling during the RBS period.

Here is a typical steady state (SS) interval workout:

 60min w/ 3x6min (SS), 3min RBI

 All workouts start with the total time. In this case, it’s 60 minutes. Within the overall time, there is a specific interval set of three intervals. Each interval is 6 minutes long at the Steady State (SS) intensity and the rest between each 6’ interval RBI is 3’. The total amount of time of the interval set is 24’. So, what to do with the remaining 36’? Use some of the time before the interval set to warm up and ride the remaining time, less 5’, for a cooldown, at endurance miles (EM) intensity.

Interested in a personalized plan?

For those of you who are looking for a plan customized to your specific schedule and goals, contact me for a free coaching consultation at clivermore@trainright.com.